Ironically, the gear that helps us on our quests to stay healthy can be pretty unhealthy for the planet. From toxic yoga mats to disposable plastic water bottles, workout gear doesn't conventionally come in the most environmentally-friendly forms. Green gear and equipment options are available if you know where to look.
Subtle changes in your workout routine and gear can help you (and the planet) stay healthy this year. To be more responsible in your choices, try these seven tips to choose more eco-friendly workout gear.
- Yoga mats: Yoga and pilates mats are often made from PVC, an environmentally toxic form of plastic that is a known carcinogen. You can get mats made from jute or natural rubber from green companies like GreenYoga.com or BareFootYoga.com.
- Water bottles: While it can be pretty tempting to grab a bottle of water at the gym or near the park for your workout, throwing away millions of plastic bottles each day isn't doing us or the planet any good. Look for a reusable water bottle made from a material that's non-leaching and sturdy, like stainless steel bottles made by Klean Kanteen or coated aluminum bottles made by Sigg. Using reusable water bottles can be more green by reducing excess toxins and save you a little green (bucks, that is), too.
- Shoes: Ironically, at least a few of those plastic bottles that we've tossed after a workout are being reused to make something else for our workouts. NewBalance's newSKY shoes are crafted from recycled plastic bottles, eight per pair. You can also look out for shoes made with recycled rubber soles.
- Socks: Most socks are made from bleached cotton or other chemical-based materials that are sourced from non-renewable resources. But, you can now buy socks made from organic cotton, corn-based fibers and eco-friendly wool from Teko Socks.
- Sports bras: While it may not be the top priority, a sports bra that doesn't completely squish you into a mashed mess isn't too much to ask, is it? If you agree, try the Luna Bra from Moving Comfort, which is also eco-friendly since it's made of yarn crafted from recycled coffee grounds! It uses encapsulated cups instead of the traditional sports bra style, which allows your look to be similar to that of a "normal" bra. You can also try Lululemon's Breathe Bra, made from organic cotton yarn. It's designed for use during yoga.
- Duds: Thankfully, there are a lot of workout clothes available in organic and recycled materials. A few favorite companies that craft workout wear from organic cotton, hemp, soy and bamboo include Patagonia, Lululemon and Gaiam.
- Equipment: When it comes to workout equipment, go for used gear first. Used sporting goods stores and classified ad listing services like Craigslist are great places to start. While a lot of the materials aren't terribly eco-friendly, reusing the equipment that's already been in circulation is a great start. You can also find equipment that uses less energy and even barbells made from recycled materials. Whenever possible, work out at or near your home. But, if you're looking at major gear like weights and treadmills, it may be more environmentally efficient to join a gym that's already using lots of power and equipment. Purchasing your own equipment might make a bigger gym carbon footprint than the gym that's already in place. Otherwise, consider working out naturally, without any major equipment. Run outside instead of on a treadmill. Ride a bike at the park instead of a stationary bike at the gym.
Image: lululemon athletica
Keep in touch with Kristi @VeggieConverter